In terms of making a 'multiplayer abstract perfect information game', territory is one of the more obvious themes because it is not mutually exclusive. Mu is such a game.

Each player has a sufficient number of men in his color, and up to eight 'board segments' of 7 cells each.

  • The initial phase is establishing a playing area and an initial position. Play usually runs clockwise.
    Fate may decide who goes first. We'll assume six players have decided on placing seven segments each.
  • Segments are put on the table one by one, to make up a board. When a segment is placed, the player places one of his men in the center. After the first player has laid down first segment, players take turns. Each new segment must at least have two cells adjacent to the evolving board. After a few rounds it may look something like this:


Note: The blue area is called "The Out of Bounds" because it is: no piece may move onto or over it. Nevertheless having one's segments bordering on the Out of Bounds as much as possible, is at least one of the considerations in this stage. Therefore lakes and creeks emerge naturally.
  • After all segments have been placed, the first player proceeds to clear one of his seven segments and players take turns to do the same till all players have just one occupied segment left.
    This segment is then filled with seven men of the players' color to form the initial position.
    An example of what it may look like is given here:


Note: The applet will mark each segment a player occupies at the beginning of his turn. Here it's red to move, occupying one segment. The reason is that players are allowed 'one move per segment'. The moment the player makes a move originating from any one such segment, the marking will disappear.

The object of each player is to obtain as large a piece of territory as possible, counted as cells under his control. At the end the player with the largest territory is the winner.

Note: Mu is a 'layered' game in more than one respect, and the actual territory - called "The Commonwealth" for reasons unknown even to the inventor - is as yet buried under a visible top layer called "Virginity".

Movement / Capture
  • After the last player has chosen his starting segment, the first player proceeds by moving a piece. A 'piece' may be a single man or a like colored column. Any number of top men of a piece also make up a piece and may be moved accordingly.
  • Players take turns to move pieces, with one move per board segment occupied at the beginning of the turn, in every turn.
    Moving is not compulsory: a player may refrain from moving pieces of any or all segments he occupies at any turn.
  • A piece moves in a straight line, exactly the number of cells equal to its height. A piece may move onto or over pieces of any color.
    • If a piece lands on a piece of like color the two merge to one column.
    • If a piece lands on an opponent's piece it captures by replacement, regardless of size.
    A player may combine moves any way he likes: it is allowed for instance to move a piece from segment A to merge with a piece of segment B, and, provided no move has originated from B yet, move the whole merged piece or part of it elsewhere, say to a segment C, and do the same there once again.
    In short: anything goes, as long as pieces are only moved from segments the player occupied at the beginning of his turn, and as long as no more than one piece is moved from any one segment.
    The automatic marking of segments from which a player may still move, should make that easy.
  • A piece may not move over or into the Out of Bounds.
  • In the course of the game, Virginity disappears gradually, and at times not so gradually due to chain reactions, to reveal sections of the Commonwealth. These sections appear and expand until they are limited by the encounter with one another, at which point the "Wall" arises as a natural separation: sections never merge.
  • A piece starting from the Commonwealth or Virginity may never move onto a cell of the Wall.
    A piece starting from the Commonwealth or Virginity may move over a cell of the Wall, if and only if that cell is occupied by a piece of like color.
    If you're wondering how a piece gets onto the Wall, or how the Wall appears in the first place, you're right on the ball.
  • The 'one move per segment' rule applies regardless of whether the move originates from Virginity, the Commonwealth or the Wall.

Capacity and Explosions in Virginity
  • The 'capacity' of a virgin cell, at any stage, is equal to the number of adjacant virgin cells. If a virgin cell gets to hold a piece consisting of a number of men equal to or greater than its capacity, it instantly 'explodes' as part of the same move, thereby distributing its men over the very cells that made up its capacity, one man per cell, while unveiling a cell of the Commonwealth or the Wall. Pieces landing on other pieces by explosion merge or capture as the case may be.

    • If the exploding cell does not form a last bridge between two sections of the Commonwealth, it either creates or expands such a section. In that case the cell sprouts one new man, immediately after the explosion, that is put onto the cell.
    • If the exploding cell does form a last bridge between two sections of the Commonwealth, it turns into a cell of the Wall. A cell of the Wall does not sprout a new man.
    If the exploding piece consisted of a number of men greater than the cells capacity, the remainder is left behind on the original cell. This is called 'overcapacity' and it is the only way to get a piece on the Wall!
    Overcapacity does not affect the sprouting of a new man.
  • Since an exploding virgin cell gives a man to every virgin neighbour, while at the same time taking a neighbour (i.e. itself) from each, these cells in turn may reach capacity or even overcapacity. In that case the original explosion has triggered a chain reaction that is part of the same move. If more such cells exist at the same time, the player is free to proceed with any of them, till the whole chain reaction has come to rest.
    Virgin cells explode under the conditions explained above, so each 'virgin explosion' creates or expands a section of the Commonwealth while rendering an extra man, or creates a cell of the Wall.
  • As long as a piece may move, receiving one or more men by explosion does not affect its right to do so.

An example
Nine pictures tell more than an unspecified number of words, so here's a local example in a part of red's turn. The part where he makes one move each from two segments he occupies. His local opponent green is in sight and has already cleared part of Virginity to make place for the Commonwealth:
1So it's red to move. The two segments he occupies are marked, indicating no red move originated from them yet.
2He moves the 2-piece (the required two cells) to capture the green man, and the 3-piece (the required three cells) to a virgin cell of capacity three. The markings disappear.
3He does so in that order, because the 3-cell explodes immediately, distributing its men over the adjacent virgin cells. It should be clear that the order of moves does matter here.
After the explosion the uncovered cell of the Commonwealth immediately sprouts a red man, indicated with a small circle. Meanwhile another virgin cell has reached capacity and explodes in a similar fashion, bringing an adjacent cell on one man overcapacity.
4Now this cell forms the last bridge between different sections of the Commonwealth, so it explodes to transform into a cell of the Wall.
The green man on the adjacent virgin cell is captured.
The one man overcapacity stays behind to form a bridge only red can pass.
5The explosions proceed with the 3-piece on the centercell of the middle segment.
6As a result one adjacent cell reaches capacity, another even overcapacity. Red may choose which one to explode first, although here the order is irrelevant.
7So a new cell of the Wall appears, and again with a red man on it.
Note: Creating cells of the Wall with overcapacity is crucial, so red did very well here.
8Here goes the other one, sprouting a man and pushing a neighbouring virgin cell to overcapacity.
9Which leads to the final explosion, where a new man sprouts on top of the overcapacity that has stayed behind. Note that the piece now threatens the green man on the other side of the Wall, and that this cell is protected twice by the green column of two.
Of course this is the result of only two moves of Red - he may have other segments to proceed with in his turn.

Now you know how to play Mu ... well, almost.

Capacity and Explosions in the Commonwealth
  • The capacity of a cell of the Commonwealth is counted in neighbours of both the Commonwealth and Virginity. If a cell of the Commonwealth explodes, nothing special happens except that it distributes its men over the very cells mentioned above, and that overcapacity remains on the original cell. Of course the explosion may trigger further explosions and/or make captures in the process.

Capacity and Explosions on the Wall
  • Other than in Virginity or the Commonwealth, a cell of the Wall becomes critical (but as yet stable) on capacity, and explodes only if the cell has overcapacity, distributing its men over the adjacent cells of the Wall and leaving the overcapacity behind.
  • A cell of the Wall only counts adjacent cells of the Wall as its neighbours. The maximum capacity a cell of the Wall can reach is four, in an intersection dividing four sections of the Commonwealth.
  • A piece on the Wall may move like any piece, but in addition it may move over any cells of the Wall, and may end its move on the Wall, merging or capturing as the case may be. Moving off the Wall is of course a definitive step.

Lost in Oscillation
For any section of the Wall the following is true: if a piece the height of the total capacity of the section is placed on one cell of the section, the thing starts exploding out till it comes to rest with each cell exactly on capacity.
Add one piece and the whole section starts to oscillate without end.
The same is true for any section of the Commonwealth, with regard to its 'critical mass', which is lower than the Wall's because cells of the Commonwealth become critical at one man below capacity, not on capacity.
  • If a section of the Wall oscillates at the end of a player's turn, the number of men on it is trimmed down to capacity for every cell of it.
  • If a section of the Commonwealth oscillates at the end of a player's turn, the number of men in it is trimmed down to one below capacity for every cell of it.
For the example above it means that the Wall would not have accepted an additional man, should this have been the case.
For an isolated cell of the Wall (with capacity zero), say crammed between two parts of the Out of Bounds, it means that it will not hold any man.
Likewise, to hold at least one man, a section of the Commonwealth must count at least three cells. Cells of a two-cell section both have capacity one and will oscillate if a man is placed on either.

Virginity Collapsing & further proceedings
Inevitably Virginity is blown up, sprouting more men, creating and expanding sections of the Commonwealth that run into gridlock with one another, leaving them locked between the Wall and the Out of Bounds.
Players may find themselves alone in such a section, or engaged in a fight with other players. Walls may lock a player in, or out. You may find yourself able to invade an adjacent section without any risk of being invaded, or quite the reverse.
Mutual capture may decide who owns a section or end in a stalemate: a piece cannot threaten to capture a piece of equal height without exposing itself.
Pieces on the Wall may engage in exchanges till one player wins and owns the section, allowing his armies to use it as a bridge. Even stalemates may occur, where the 'bridges' block one another under the threat of capture.

End of the Game
The game ends when all players have passed on successive turns. The counting is easy:
  • If a section of the Commonwealth holds only a piece or pieces of like color, it is the territory of the corresponding player.
  • If a section of the Commonwealth holds pieces of different color, it is neutral territory.
  • If a section of the Commonwealth holds no pieces at all, but is accessible from the Wall only by a piece or pieces of like color, it counts as territory for the corresponding player. If it is accessible by pieces of different color, or by no pieces at all, it is neutral territory.
    Note: though not limited to them, this rule typically addresses one- and two-cell sections that will not accept a piece to claim them.
  • Though unlikely, it is possible to have fragments of Virginity left inside the Commonwealth at the end of a game. These count as territory as if they were part of the Commonwealth.

A concise history of the game can be found in the essay how I invented games and why not.

Mu © MindSports

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